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Open Letter to the First Fruit of My Womb

Dear Ashley,

It was a bright Tuesday morning at 9 on 12th December 1995 when you were born. Be proud, sweetheart, for you share your birthday with your country, Kenya. Mummy was barely older than you are now, but so thrilled. This was the happiest day of my life, to have held a human being I could call my own, the miracle of life, in my arms.
I did not know how to hold you, neither did I know how to wrap you in shawls, change your clothes or nappies, but no mother in the world was happier. I did not have a job, thus spent most of my time just gazing at you as you slept, because you really loved to, and still sleep a lot.

We did not have much to survive on. We bonded everyday, and as the days turned to months and years, and your sister joined us three years later, the bigger our problems grew. There came a time when there wasn’t anything to eat in our shack, and we would take some water, your dad, you and myself, for days on end. Baby Val used to suckle my breast for whatever milk could come out after a diet of water alone. I loved you so much, baby gal, you never used to cry.

When it was unbearable, and we couldn’t sleep after sipping our gallons of water, we would wake up and trek from Dandora, our slum, to Umoja, where your grandma’s sister used to stay, if only for them to share a meal with us. I remember your strong little feet, and how uncomplainingly you matched my shortened steps for all those kilometers as I carried Val on my back. You were only 4 years old. After filling our stomachs, and knowing that Daddy was at home hungry, with the scorching sun, we would start the journey all over again, from Umoja to Huruma, my sister’s place. We would fill our bellies again and since she was a closer relative, we would be bold and borrow some food to take home with us. Never mind that we even used to carry their leftovers and anything that was on offer, as long as it was edible. Sometimes auntie would have some money and give us KShs. 20/= on top! Armed with our variety of foodstuff, Val strapped to my chest now, because the precious food took her earlier position, you used to take my hand and we would start our journey back to Dandora on foot again. We would walk to Wamwares, where we used to board a matatu in order to pay only KShs. 5/= as fare from Phase 1 to Phase 5 where we stayed.

We were dead on our feet, but we had food and some money. I remember when we got home, you would collapse in a corner and fall asleep until the next morning. Your tiny feet would be swollen fat when you woke up, and would be too painful, even for you to stand up. You would scream in agony. It would take a whole week for the swelling to go down, though the blisters usually took a bit longer.

It was too painful for me to watch you suffer, so I decided to finish my education from where I had dropped out of school, went on to college, and armed with my results, went in search of a job. It was tricky, so I gave it all up, preferring to do odd jobs in order for us to survive decently.

I have managed to educate you both this far, and because you only have a year to finish high school, I am praying that God will take care of you and your siblings for me, that none of you will ever suffer the same fate I did. I believe in the power of education. It has brought me this far, from grass to grace. Hold it with both hands, respect your elders, society and the rule of law, and happiness, which I wish for you, will be yours for the rest of your days. I want my grandkids’ mum, when the time comes, to be free of worries. Just as we trekked together with Val on my back, I am hopeful that you will have a car seat in which to strap my grandchild when you drive over to visit me.
All the best, my dearest, the first fruit of my womb.

I will never stop loving you and your siblings.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Mummy.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

calupo's picture

Reminds me of my past

This piece surely, is a reflection of what i went through around the same time. it is good to hear that despite the earlier challenges they are in school. I thank God for you.

Christine

Phionah Musumba's picture

Speechless!

Am happy, not because you had to undergo the same pain we did, but because you know where am coming from, thus most probably where am going. I also thank God for you dear.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Gracious's picture

My story my life

Thank you for sharing your story it has made me shade tears because I know and understand what you mean. I believe through education i'll reach the stars.

Love

Phionah Musumba's picture

Thanks

Trust me, dear, you will reach even greater heights than you ever imagined. Thank you so much for reading my post. Its so encouraging.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Gracious's picture

My story my life

Thank you for sharing your story it has made me shade tears because I know and understand what you mean. I believe through education i'll reach the stars.

Love

Mukut's picture

Heart touching

Warm and hear touching rendition. Education is empowerment for us.I am sure your children would reach for the stars and make you proud.

Love and blessings,

Mukut Ray

Phionah Musumba's picture

Encouraging

Thanks so much for reading my post. I believe that not only my children, but also the over 300 other girls and boys that look up to me for their education, and other basic needs will scale greater and higher heights.
Blessings to you and yours too, Mukut Ray.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Sharontina's picture

letter

This drives me too to write one to my lil one close to my heart.

it has touched me so much that kept reading it again and again.

wonderful. blessings to the mom and child.

love.

Merlin Sharontina

Phionah Musumba's picture

Thank you

It is therapeutic and healing, Sharontina. Thanks for reading my post, it is very encouraging.
I also bless you and yours.
Lots of love,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Pamela's picture

Very touching

This is so amazing and very touching. I am so enocuraged and also proud of the strength and determination that women (especially mothers) have in order to accomplish their goals - especially where it concerns their children. 'Education is the key to success' and it is a great thing that you have ensured that your kids receive education and that will definitely make a huge difference in their lives!!!!

Pamela Makati, South Africa

Phionah Musumba's picture

Thank you!

Thanks for taking the time to read my post, Pamela.
I am humbled by your kind words, and agree with you that education unlocks doors that would otherwise have stayed closed forever.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

jacollura's picture

Lovely!

What a lovely letter! You are an inspiration to your daughters and all the girls you mentor.

Phionah Musumba's picture

Thank you, Julie!

These girls and my daughters are the reason I wake up every morning to try and make each day count in their lives. I see a lot of me in them, and know that they will make it, that there is some bright light at the end of their tunnels.
Thanks for your encouragement, Julie.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Chinemu's picture

Touching

I had such a rough life too, for me its because my hardworking parents died prematurely, I pray to God that I be there when my children grow. Could not hold my tears when reading your post. You are indeed the unsung hero, keep up the spirit. I pray that your children appreciate you for your efforts, you never gave up, Bravo!

Phionah Musumba's picture

Speechless!

Thanks so much for not only reading, but appreciating my post. Am so sorry that you had to grow up without your parents. It is because of situations such as your childhood and my own that make me forge on and fight for the rights of such cases in my community to basic needs. A child's life doesn't have to end or be drastically disrupted just because they are orphaned or come from the poorest of the poor families.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Diane Ezeji's picture

dedication and strength

When I was reading your story I felt the strength and dedication that comes to women when they become mothers. You faced so many difficulties, but giving up was not an option for you because of your dedication to your children. I smiled when I read your hopes for your grandchild to be carried in a car seat when she is brought to visit you! That was a nice picture in my mind when I read it. I pictured you carrying your child and now your daughter carrying hers in a much improved situation.

Diane Ezeji

Phionah Musumba's picture

Strength of anyone WOMAN!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post, comment and inspire me with your kind words, Diane. As women, we are used to taking charge. You will agree with me that in 99% of relationships, women do the thinking for the both of them, and when the kids start coming, she has to think for everyone in the house too. It is such a fulfilling feeling, being able to do the impossible, and keep doing it day in and out. My prayer for my daughters is that they fly higher than my wildest fantasies.
Warm regards,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

RubyMoon's picture

Thanks for Sharing

No one can imagine the horror of not being able to feed your own children but your story is inspiring, and I admire your tenacity and strength in overcoming such difficulties. I wish you and your children every success.

Phionah Musumba's picture

Welcome!

I agree with you that the most pitifully heart wrenching sound is the cry of a hungry baby when the mother would love to but can't afford to appease her baby's gnawing stomach. I believe my experience taught me to understand the women and girls at the Centre better. We are doing good, we are alive to prove that. Thank you for your wishes, we wish you more. I really appreciate your reading and commenting on my posts, it is so inspiring and encouraging.
All the best,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Maya Norton's picture

Phionah, Ashley, Val, hugs. A

Phionah, Ashley, Val, hugs. A powerful and moving story that I feel honored to have been shared with.

~ Maya

Phionah Musumba's picture

A bear hug back to you!

Hey, Maya,
I am honored that you spared the time not only to read and comment on my post, but also to send us a loving hug. Thanks a lot.
All the best,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Maya Norton's picture

I was so moved that it was

I was so moved that it was actions > words (sent from across the world).

~ Maya

Phionah Musumba's picture

Thanks

You leave me speechless. Thank you. You are so inspiring and encouraging.

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

Susan K.A.'s picture

So much love

You are an amazing mother. I am so moved by what you have had to go through. The courage and resilience that you have demonstrated despite your hardships are a true measure of the depth of your love for your girls. I am inspired by your story and I thank you for sharing it with us all. I send love from Oregon and all my best wishes for your daughters health and happiness as well as for your own.

Much love,
Susan

______________________________________________________________________________

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."
-Hafiz

Phionah Musumba's picture

Thank you!

I must say that am humbled that my post triggered something in you. I believe all women are strong, and we always realize how, when our very existence in whatever sphere we find ourselves at a particular time in our life is threatened.
Thanks for your vote of confidence. Sending you lots of love from Kenya, as I wish you all the best in all your endeavors, not only for yourself, but your loved ones' too.

More love,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

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